2023 Speakers

Click here to return to the main summit page.

dean amhaus

headshot of Dean AmhausDean Amhaus has served as the president and CEO of The Water Council since March 2010. His diverse, 40-year background in multiple sectors encapsulates a wide range of expertise in government relations, branding, fundraising, economic development and nonprofit management in Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin.

Amhaus has also served as the president of the Spirit of Milwaukee, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing Milwaukee’s image, as well as the president of Forward Wisconsin, the state’s marketing economic development organization, and executive director of the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Commission and Wisconsin Arts Board. He began his career working in Washington, D.C., for a firm that advocated for federal policy issues for the arts, humanities and people with disabilities.

Roger Berry

Roger Berry is the CEO of Sudoc, LLC, a company with a patented, nature-inspired chemistry that makes chemical reactions exponentially more powerful. Sudoc is using this sustainable chemistry to develop products that address difficult cleaning problems under the brand Dot and to make environmental treatment processes more energy- and chemical-efficient under the brand NEAT. Two decades-plus of experience with investing in and leading companies with a focus on sustainability has prepared him for his current role in building a transformative sustainable chemistry company in Sudoc.

Lindsay Birt

Dr. Lindsay Birt, client solutions manager at Xylem, exemplifies what it means to be a leader in One Water. Through her technical expertise in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Dr. Birt fosters innovations in agricultural water, surface water, wastewater and stormwater management. With a “watershed state of mind,” Dr. Birt emphasizes engagement and partnerships with stakeholders across the water sector to achieve comprehensive solutions to pressing water issues. Additionally, she is a staunch advocate for the implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and initiatives throughout the water world.

Dr. Birt is a 2023 Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow, 2022 Xylem Strategic Leadership Development Program Graduate, 2021 US Water Alliance Outstanding Rising One Water Leader and recipient of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation National Science Foundation  award. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Intelligent Water Systems Committee for the Illinois Water Environment Association, member of the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Management (SWIM) Center Strategic Committee, Xylem sponsorship co-chair for the WEF InFLOW program, member of the One Water Council of the US Water Alliance and technical advisor for Current.

Cindy Bohlen

Cindy Bohlen, CFA, is the chief mindfulness officer and director of responsible investing at Riverwater Partners. Prior to joining Riverwater, she managed money for clients, serving as an analyst, fund manager and portfolio manager at Robert W. Baird and M&I Investment Management. More recently, she added a socially responsible lens to her investment process while working for a private socially responsible investment firm and then for a local foundation. She is the current board chair for Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment.

Rick Callender

Rick Callender is the chief executive officer of Valley Water. Appointed CEO by the board on May 26, 2020, Callender oversees an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water; flood protection; and environmental stewardship of waterways for Santa Clara County’s 1.9 million residents. He has worked for Valley Water since 1996, serving most recently as the chief of external affairs. As the CEA, he led Valley Water’s efforts in strategic external communications to the media, community and the public and oversaw all government relations efforts on local, regional, state and federal levels, as well as public policies that directly affect Valley Water.

Prior to joining the district, Mr. Callender worked as a special assistant to former City of San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, as a field campaign organizer for the California Democratic Party, as a congressional fellow for the United States House of Representatives, subcommittee on energy, and as a congressional fellow to Congressman Ronald V. Dellums. He also served as president of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP from 2000 to 2008.

ellie collinson

Ellie Collinson is the deputy director and chief operating officer of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, a U.S. government agency that helps companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority infrastructure projects in emerging economies. She has over 20 years of professional operations and organizational leadership experience in the small business, nonprofit, political and governmental arenas. Collinson has been responsible for leading teams undergoing rapid expansion, downsizing and leadership transitions on multiple occasions in her career. She has developed programs and standalone organizations and has worked with individual and institutional investors to design strategies and tactical plans for political, policy and social change.

Prior to joining USTDA, Ellie was appointed by the Biden-Harris Administration to serve as chief of staff to the chief financial officer and assistant secretary of administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In that role, her team’s portfolio spanned security & intelligence, budget, acquisition management, facilities, civil rights, performance management, human resources, privacy & open government, and financial management.

James eklund

James Eklund leads the water and natural resources practice at Sherman & Howard law firm, where he is a strong advocate for smart water infrastructure and a recognized authority on water management in the American West. He works with sovereign governments, multi-state authorities, state agencies and private interests to deliver critical water infrastructure projects and to design policy regarding water law, natural resources, infrastructure and environmental protection. He uses his depth of policy-making experience and notable connections with federal, state and local decision makers to assist clients on a wide variety of matters including environmental, regulatory and legislative issues and matters involving the use of public-private partnerships.

Eklund served as Colorado’s lead negotiator and signatory on the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan and as Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, where he built a reputation as a leader in negotiation and diplomacy. He is recognized for bringing together numerous stakeholders with opposing goals to collaboratively craft binding solutions to common problems. He was the architect of Colorado’s Water Plan, the largest civic engagement process in state history, and served as legal counsel to Colorado’s governor.

charles fishman

Charles FishmanIn 2015, Dean Amhaus, the president and CEO of The Water Council, was looking for a way to bring fresh energy to the annual Water Leaders Summit. Dean knew the work of journalist Charles Fishman and had heard him talking about water on NPR, so he asked Fishman if he’d be interested in finding an all-new way of staging a conference.

That’s how the Water Leaders Summit came to have its original, energizing style. Every panel tackles an urgent topic in the storytelling format that is now a hallmark of the Water Leaders Summit. Fishman draws stories and examples from experts that they’ve never shared before — and he makes sure no question goes unasked.

Fishman started his reporting career at the Washington Post, where he was part of the team that investigated the Challenger space shuttle disaster. He is the author of three New York Times-bestselling books, most recently “One Giant Leap,” the story of how America put people on the moon in the 1960s. His book “The Big Thirst” is the bestselling book about water in a generation, and a standard for people trying to understand how best to tackle water problems. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, also a journalist.

alan gilden

Alan Gilden joined Watts Water Technologies in 2017 as vice president, global quality, and has helped lead the transformation of the Watts Quality System ensuring that the company consistently delivers superior quality, service and value to its customers. He leads environmental sustainability at Watts from concept to the broad-based and maturing program Watts has today.  Key successes have been significant reduction in resource consumption and savings; UNGC and CEO Water Mandate Signatories; The Water Council’s WAVE Verification; Newsweek America’s Most Responsible Companies List and USA Today’s Climate Leaders List.  Gilden also leads the One Watts Performance System (OWPS) efforts at Watts. He is responsible for facilitating and helping lead cultural transformations and lean initiatives designed to eliminate waste, standardize processes, continuously improve performance and make it a way of life at Watts.

Prior to joining Watts, Alan held several leadership roles at ITT including operations for control technologies, global strategic sourcing operations and supplier quality.

Daniel goetzel

Daniel Goetzel is the entrepreneurial lead for the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines Program. The NSF Engines Program is a bold new initiative focused on expanding the U.S. geography of innovation, providing regions up to $160 million over 10 years+ to build their entrepreneurial ecosystems. In 2021, Goetzel joined the National Science Foundation, an $8.5 billion federal agency, to help launch the Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships Directorate (TIP). The TIP Directorate is the first new NSF Directorate in over 30 years. Previously, he led Columbia University’s corporate partnership and startup ecosystem building efforts, including leading a $100 million public-private partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation focused on cyber entrepreneurship. Prior to that, he was the inaugural director of innovation at Johns Hopkins University. He started his career in politics, working in senior roles for a governor, senator and as employee #2 on a presidential campaign.

Matt Howard

As vice president of water stewardship, Matt Howard oversees The Water Council’s stewardship initiatives including WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified, water stewardship advisory services and comprehensive professional water stewardship training. Previously, TWC helped establish the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) System globally with specific oversight of North America. Matt created the world’s first professional credentialing program for water stewardship professionals and made the business case for use of the International Water Stewardship Standard (“AWS Standard”) in the North American marketplace. His 15+ years in sustainability program development and management include serving as Milwaukee’s sustainability director and leading sustainable manufacturing initiatives during his time in Washington, D.C., where he worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce and as a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Paul McRoberts

Paul McRoberts is manager of North America regional industry mining, metals and cement for Rockwell Automation. He is responsible for executing Rockwell’s growth and performance strategy, growing account relationships and expanding Rockwell Automation’s portfolio in North America. Paul has 34 years of service with Rockwell Automation. Prior to joining Rockwell Automation, McRoberts worked for Goodyear Tire Company in Asia Pacific for 11 years. He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Paige Peters

Paige Peters, Ph.D., is the founder and chief technology officer of Rapid Radicals Technology, Inc. She founded Rapid Radicals in 2016 to commercialize her graduate research at Marquette University on the development of a decentralized, high-rate advanced wastewater treatment process to eliminate combined and sanitary sewer overflows and basement backups during intense storm events. In addition to receiving over $1 million in Small Business Innovation Research awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Peters also participated in and mentored with the NSF I-Corps program before joining the Great Lakes Hub teaching team in July 2020 as an adjunct professor with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is also a professional mentor with Engineers Without Borders on water supply and distribution projects in Guatemala.

Michael samuel

Michael Samuel founded Nobel Systems, a GIS and Asset Management software company, in 1992. In his role as President & CEO, Samuel oversees both the management and customer liaison for major projects both domestic and international. He executes firm-wide policies and strategies, directs the firm’s day-to-day operations, and accounts for all Nobel facilities.

In 2015, Samuel received the U.S. Department of Commerce’s prestigious Export Achievement award. He is on the board of the California Utility Executive Management Association and was honored as a finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year of the Inland Empire. In 2023, Nobel Systems was awarded the President’s E Award for exports, the nation’s highest export honor.

jim stern

Jim Stern joined A.O. Smith Corporation as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary on June 1, 2007. He is responsible for overseeing the corporation’s legal, governance, compliance, securities law, and government relations functions. Stern currently serves on the Board of Directors of Jason Industries, Inc. and currently serves on a number of charitable boards, including the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Fleck Foundation. He also served as a board member of Polar Ware Company, a privately‐held manufacturer of restaurant wares and beverage dispensing machines from 2007 until its sale in 2012.

Kathryn Sorensen

Kathryn Sorensen, director of research at the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute at Arizona State University, served for many years as director of Phoenix Water Services as well as director of the City of Mesa Water Resources Department. In these roles she was responsible for the delivery of safe, clean, reliable water for millions of Arizonans, and significantly advanced the sustainable management of water resources in Arizona and the Colorado River basin. Kathryn earned a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from Texas A&M University and a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Michigan. In her position at Arizona State University, she oversees the research efforts of the Kyl Center for Water Policy, serves as a professor of practice at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, and as a senior global futures scientist at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. Sorensen is a member of the Colorado River Research Group.

Matt Stuyvenberg

Matt Stuyvenberg was named vice president-water quality at Badger Meter in January 2022. He is responsible for leading the growth strategy development and execution of Badger Meter’s water quality-based capabilities globally. Stuyvenberg most recently served as senior director-water quality since 2019. He joined Badger Meter in 2007 as a mechanical engineer of applied research. He received a BS in mechanical engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering and an executive MBA in international business from Marquette University.

ambassador chantale wong

Chantale Yok-Min Wong is the United States executive director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Before her appointment, she was the senior vice president at Amida Technology Solutions. She was appointed by President Obama to serve as vice president for administration and finance, and chief financial officer at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Prior to MCC, she was the budget director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She has also held leadership positions at the Office of Management and Budget, Departments of Treasury and Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. She joined ADB in 1999 as an environment specialist and was subsequently appointed by President Bill Clinton as U.S. alternate director. She holds a master in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She has another master in environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on water and wastewater management. She earned her undergraduate degree in civil and structural engineering from the University of Hawaii.

Click here to return to the main summit page.